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Race 2 - Day 1

Mission Performance - Ben Pate

09 SEP 2013 - Race 2

"How are you feeling about your first ocean crossing..." These were the words spoken by PR manager for the Clipper Race whilst interviewing myself just before we set off from Brest. "Excited and nervous..." This was my now standard response to the question, but the truth be told, I didn't really know what I was feeling.

I was more concerned with getting the boat prepared and making sure my watch, as I'm one of the watch leaders on board, was all prepared to go.

We set off for the start in the parade of sail and had an excellent time seeing all the boats from the mid fleet, as we led the procession in London. Twelve 70-foot racing yachts all lined up motor sailing along is a sight to behold.

We moved out to the start area and for many of the crew started to see big waves for the first time. These will probably be referred to as small waves in a matter of months, but for the moment, they were large rolling waves, probably 5m in amplitude and about 20m long.

We made a mess of the start by having our Yankee lines wrapped around the forestay. A school boy mistake from one of the crew, but as is always the theme on GREAT Britain, mistakes are allowed as long as they only happen once.

Moving around the cans, we entered into one mark with OneDLL heading in from our starboard side. Olly Cotterell had the biggest grin on his face as we tried to squeeze him wide, however for safety we moved in and touched the marker along the port side. The boats must have been only a matter of metres away and stood on the bow, it's an image I'll remember forever.

As we hit the mark, we had to do a 720 before racing off with the rest of the fleet. We completed these turns, sorted the Yankee and set off after the leaders. Team on the high side, trimming like hooligans, we soon caught up with the leaders and entered into the night.

Now this was it. I woke from my off watch and during the handover found out we were flying the A2 spinnaker. It was around 20knots true of breeze from behind and we were making 10-15 knots of boat speed.

I was scared, very scared. The boat was moving fast, there was lots of noise, we couldn't quite see as our night vision had not got up yet and we had to trim to go faster. It was a situation I had not been in before.

As the watch leader, it's not good form to let on that you're scared. So I had to re-assure them team, make sure they were all happy and tried to get on with the job the best I could. The team did an excellent shift and overnight we have moved into second place. GREAT Britain is on the move again.

This morning I let onto the team that I was scared and the main comment back was "I'm glad you said that, I was too but I didn't want to let on!" I think the theme of this race is we are going to be scared - a lot. It's natural. However, by coming together as a team, realising this is how it is in ocean racing, we can overcome our fears and hopefully stay at the front of the fleet.

What will I say when Jonathan asks me how I feel before the Pacific? That depends on how well the Southern Ocean goes.